A Calling for Compassion
Angela Hospice nurses on why they find their work so rewarding
Dana Casadei, Development Liaison
August 23, 2021
If you see Kolby Reed rocking out to some music in her car there’s a good possibility she’s on her way to see her next patient.
It’s a moment of zen for the Angela Hospice Home Care nurse. Home care was the ideal fit for the former firefighter/EMT, who didn’t prefer the environment of working in a building all day, like she did during her first two years of nursing. Kolby was drawn to home care and Angela Hospice.
“One of the main reasons why I came to Angela was the support,” said Kolby, who has worked at Angela Hospice since April 2020. “… Here, people are ready to help. You’re not just told to kind of figure it out. You have different entities that can start taking apart the problem and trying to help in whatever way they can to just make it a little bit easier for everyone.”
That high level of compassion for others is one of the skills that make an excellent hospice nurse.
“It does take a special person, someone who is also incredibly compassionate, and definitely someone who is very loving and caring,” said Talar Takessian, a nurse in the Care Center. “Nurses are normally those things, but I think the compassion for hospice goes beyond regular levels.”
Talar said that many Angela Hospice nurses feel called to the work. Take, for instance, how she ended up at Angela Hospice, where she’s worked for almost four years.
She had never even heard of Angela Hospice when she was the caregiver for a 90-year-old, who was admitted to hospice during her last month of life. Then, while a student at Madonna University, Talar had a clinical at Angela Hospice during her last semester.
“I just felt so drawn to it,” she said. “And I just never forgot how I felt during my clinicals. I just wanted to keep going back to Angela Hospice.”
Joshua LaFave, who started as a Care Center nurse last year and is now working in home care, felt that draw too.
He had applied at Angela Hospice around the same time he applied to work as a public health nurse for the Wayne County Health Department, a job he ended up taking. But, the longer he worked for the county, he said it became clear that it wasn’t really the right fit for him anymore, and he wanted a job that was more hands-on. And more specifically, he wanted something connected to his Catholic faith.
“Being someone of faith, it’s like, it’s really a time of final resolutions and everything,” Josh said about hospice. “Like, this is the culmination of your whole life, is actually your death. It’s not just like, the end of everything. It’s really everything in your life has lead up to that moment, which is pretty amazing when you think about it.”
The ability to talk to patients, and not be rushed getting to know them, is another aspect that makes being a hospice nurse so special.
“When you’re in a hospital setting, you obviously are talking to patients, but it always kind of feels rushed. You’ve got a lot of things where you’re juggling, and you’re running back and forth,” Kolby said. “And in hospice, you get to sit down with these patients and really get to know them, get to talk to them, get to see what they want, what they need, what their goals are.”
Getting to know the patients’ families quite well, and having conversations about death and dying, isn’t always easy, but it is an important part of the job.
Josh said getting the patients and families to be comfortable about death, and to a place of acceptance, is something he prides himself on in his care.
“If I can get the family and the patient both to be like, yeah, we’re ready, we’re not afraid, we’re together, my symptoms are managed — when that’s achieved, that’s probably my favorite part of doing this job,” he said.
Hospice nurses are able to help patients and their families find beauty at the end of life, which is rewarding for everyone, staff included.
“I think, to be able to help them through something as difficult as passing away, there’s almost nothing more rewarding than that,” Talar said. “I think it just gives me a sense that I am truly living my life purpose to be able to help people do something so difficult.”